Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled out another gritty victory to advance to the NBA Western Conference finals.
League MVP Durant had 39 points with 16 rebounds, and the Thunder roared from 16 down to eliminate the LA Clippers 104-98 on Thursday in game six of their semi-final play-off series.
“This is definitely a series that pushed us to the brink,” Durant said.
“We were in some tough spots but we stayed together, we persevered and it shows character.”
Russell Westbrook had 19 points and 12 assists, Reggie Jackson scored 14 while Steven Adams contributed 10 with 11 rebounds for the second-seeded Thunder, who moved into their third conference final in the past four years.
“We’re excited to be moving on, we’re satisfied but we’re not a happy team just happy to be here,” Westbrook said.
“We know how tough it’s going to be to advance but we’re looking to a great challenge coming up here.”
Top-seeded San Antonio will host Oklahoma City on Monday in the opener of their best-of-seven series.
“I’m already worried about Tony Parker,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said referring to the All-Star point guard.
“Both teams play hard, both teams have great players It’s going to be a great series.”
Chris Paul scored 25 points and 11 assists, and Blake Griffin collected 22 points, eighth assists and eight boards before fouling out late in the game as the Clippers ended their season amid the dark cloud of league banned owner Donald Sterling’s racially-charged remarks.
“We’ve gone through a lot of stuff the last three-to-four weeks but we should not use that as an excuse,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
In the Eastern Conference, Indiana defeated Washington 93-80 with David West dropping in eight of his 29 points in a late 17-2 run, as the visiting Pacers eliminated the pesky Wizards in six games of their semi-final play-off series.
The Pacers victory sets up a highly-anticipated conference finals rematch with the Miami Heat starting Sunday in Indiana after the teams split their four-game series in the regular season.